American Eliminating Checked Bags on Separate Tickets Outside of oneworld

Via Traveling Better:

Effective October 1, 2014, AA will no longer through check bags when the passenger presents separate tickets at the ticket counter except as noted below.

…Customers traveling on separate tickets will only be able to through check bags when the ticket is for travel on:

American Airlines and American Eagle
US Airways and US Express
oneworld partner airline

For all other carriers ticketed separately, bag will only be checked for the AA, US or oneworld partner flight. The customer will need to recheck their bags with the other carrier for the continuing travel.

Department of Transportation rules that went into effect in July 2012 mean that a customer pays one set of fees for their entire journey, and ultimately limits how much an airline is keeping of their own fees when checking interline baggage. Now that the folks from Tempe, Arizona are in charge at American that means the beginning of changes to capture revenue.

If you were to book an award using your American miles on their partner Etihad, but there was no award availability to get to Dallas so you bought that ticket from American, then American would check your bags through to Dallas only. You would have to collect your bags, and then re-check them in with Etihad. This is a huge hassle, and requires a whole lot of extra time for your connection. It also may screw up trips, if that first American flight gets delayed.

For instance, flying Austin – Dallas – Abu Dhabi – Chennai. Two tickets only because American wasn’t making any seats available for Austin – Dallas, so you give American more money. Etihad is a partner, but not a oneworld partner. You have separate tickets. American won’t check your bags onto Etihad (they would if it was all on a single ticket, such as if there had been award space available on the Austin – Dallas flight). A mechanical delay causes your connection in Dallas to be too short, you run for that Etihad flight (which begins in a couple of months). You have to choose between your bags being left behind in Dallas, or making it to India. Thanks, AA! They won’t even interline on separate tickets with their partner Alaska Airlines…

For me, separate tickets are common. Sometimes as well I’ll buy part of a trip, and ticket the rest later, especially with awards. Or there might be a good business class paid fare originating from a particular city, but you can’t price it with add-on segments from where you’re starting your journey so you have to ticket that separately.

It’s also something that the median traveler would have no idea to expect, a policy going into effect 9 days from now that hasn’t even been announced.

This isn’t as bad as the US Airways approach. When they first rolled out changes in mid-2012 they wouldn’t through check bags on two separate tickets to any partner at all. Here American will through check bags between American and any oneworld airline. Hopefully this isn’t just an interim change but as far as they’re going to go.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is just what all of us predicted. AA is not interested in being customer friendly, they are just interested in revenue. Same as UA and DL, and they should be called out for this. Anyone who left another airline to go to AA because they thought things would be different, unfortunately this should help prove that you are wrong.

  2. Very unwelcome news. I booked a complex United award ticket months ago with about 12 legs using 5 different Star Alliance carriers(at the time).

    Now, US has joined OW and I have a fairly tight connection in MIA from US to Avianca. I was counting on having that bag interlined. What a pain the @$$ top learn this now

  3. Isn’t American breaking any rules by doing this?
    What is the exact ruling by the FAA or the Department of Transportation.
    Shouldn’t the government agency concerned be able to step in and at least do something about this?

  4. How does is new policy affect tickets that are booked with a combo of American and Alaska legs, under one confirmation number?

  5. This is just plain stupid. Not even a money grab. If they are after customers’ money, just charge for the privilege to interline if you have to, but don’t inconvenience your customers. This lack of creativity is the reason why, after all the excess profits from the mergers wear off, airlines will be on the verge of bankruptcy again.

  6. I have this exact scenario coming up October 7–a paid AA flight MIA.IAD, and then an award flight on BA to LHR then onto to JNB.

    I’ve called AA four times on this and was told each time that my bags CANNOT be through checked, they must be picked up from the carousel in IAD and then cleared through BA.

    This, although BA is a one-world partner with AA. Unbelievable.

  7. @mark yes, there are, you may not have time to grab a meal in the airport if you have to spend extra time waiting at baggage claim and then rechecking bags during your connection. this makes it an even bigger deal the american is now serving meals on fewer flights.

  8. I don’t get it.

    There was never any requirement for AA or any other airline to through check bags on seperate tickets. Most airlines either never did this or stopped it years ago.

    AAmerican finally stopped giving us something we haven’t paid for and we are now mad?

    First world problems.

  9. @srptraveller

    Can you back up that comment?

    I’ve interlinked baggage many times on different carriers, most recently in February between SQ and CX, not even on the same alliance.

  10. Just for me to understand: Are we talking about separate tickets with two different PNRs or is this change for separate tickets within the same PNR?
    I often have the later:
    Two tickets (eg. one from LH and one from AA, but both within the same PNR).

  11. @Rambuster – if you have flights on two airlines which use different reservation systems you will have two pnr’s. i guarantee you have separate PNRs for AA and LH. What we are talking about is separate tickets, though separate ticket #s can be ok (if you have more than 4 segments that generates the next ticket #). In other words, buy flights separately rather than as part of a single reservation then if you are connecting outside of oneworld AA won’t want to through check. Presumably this is for tickets purchased Oct 1 onward rather than merely flown.

  12. @srptraveller – Not at all correct, interlining bags on separate tickets is common throughout the world. Delta and US Airways stopped in 2012. Most other airlines still do it. I do it quite regularly.

  13. @gary, its just a seesaw. They are all racing to the bottom, eliminating services, and charging for others. UA had its time in the sun, now it looks like the suns moving.

  14. Does anyone know if they would charge baggage fee for separate ticket? I often do AA to JL on two separate ticket (not CONJ)

    AA agent at Tokyo told me that when baggage is thru checked (even on separate ticket), system automatically “match” to international portion. I’ve done AA Y to JL Y and I could check 2PC without fee. But that was almost 2 years ago.

  15. I know this is a rather old post, but I am traveling on American airlines ticket on American Airlines metal from Barcelona to New York and then New York to Washington on two separate tickets. American refuses to through check my bag even though it’s American to American. Ridiculous!

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